Bethlehemkirchplatz with the Sculpture Memorias Urbanas

Bethlehemkirchplatz with the Sculpture Memorias Urbanas

A Sign Of Open Mind and Tolerance

Juan Garaizabal: Memoria Urbana Berlin, 2012 – © Juan Garaizabal
Juan Garaizabal: Memoria Urbana Berlin, 2012 – © Juan Garaizabal

Although easy to reach, the small Bethlehemkirchplatz can easily be overlooked on the city map by visitors of Berlin. The place is being situated west of the subway stations “Stadtmitte” and “Kochstraße” (U6) in between “Check-Point Charlie” and the “Museum for Communication”.

Where deterrent border fortifications could be found until the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, the foundations of the “Bethlehemskirche” (Bohemian Bethlehem Church) were excavated. The church, being inaugurated in 1737, was built as a homestead for bohemian refuges and other foreigners.

Today, a mosaic in the pavement of the Bethlehemkirchplatz shows the ground plan of the former church. In the meantime, a sculpture called “Houseball” was added which symbolizes all the household goods that a refugee might be able to carry. At the turn of the millennium, the square was renamed to „Bethlehemkirchplatz“. A downsized advertising pillar contains explanations in German, English and Czech language.

It was this impressive square that inspired the conceptual artist Juan Garaizabal. In the context of his global art project “Memorias Urbanas”, directed to the recreation of important buildings that vanished in the course of time, he designed an illuminated sculpture made from steel and light elements showing the exact site and size of the original Bohemian Bethlehem Church.

The arts at Bethlehemkirchplatz opens up the view to a philanthropic culture which is characterized by its openness with respect to all unknown and which is able to overcome each and every border of inhumanity.

Berlin experienced the public presentation of this art work 275 years after the inauguration of the original Bohemian Bethlehem Church.